The Expository Three

The Expository Three

First up in our series on Methodologies of Bible Study are what I call the Expository Three. These are the three questions at the heart of Inductive Study and indeed, are foundational to expository teaching. They are:

  • What does it say?
  • What does it mean?
  • What do I need to do about it (Sometimes phrased as how does it apply to my life)?

Each of these questions provides critical information for understanding the Bible and growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s look at some ways to dig into the Bible using each of the three questions…


What does it say?

  • Read the selected portion of Scripture twice. On the second time through, make note of any words or phrases you do not understand.
  • Identify what is happening in the text.
  • Attempt to paraphrase the text.
  • Mark key words and phrases: A key word is one that is essential to the text. Key words and phrases are repeated in order to convey the author’s point or purpose for writing.
  • Make lists: Making lists can be one of the most enlightening things you do as you study. Lists reveal truths and highlight important concepts.
  • Watch for contrasts and comparisons: Contrasts and comparisons paint word pictures to make it easier to remember what you’ve
  • Mark terms of conclusion: Words such as therefore, thus and for this reason indicate that a conclusion or summary is being made.


What does it mean?

  • Remember that context rules: The word “context” means that which goes with the text. If you lay the solid foundation of observation, you will be prepared to consider each verse in light of the surrounding verses, the book in which it is found, and the entire Word of God. Ask yourself: Is my interpretation of this passage of Scripture consistent with the theme, purpose, and structure of the book in which it is found? Is it consistent with other Scripture about the same subject? Am I considering the historic and cultural context? Never take a Scripture out of its context to make it say what you want it to say. Discover what the author is saying; don’t add to his meaning.
  • Always seek the full counsel of the Word of God: When you know God’s Word thoroughly, you will not accept a teaching simply because someone has used one or two isolated verses to support it. As you read the Bible more extensively, you will be able to discern whether a teaching is biblical or not. Saturate yourself in the Word of God; it is your safeguard against wrong doctrine.
  • Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture: The best interpretation of Scripture is Scripture. Remember, all Scripture is inspired by God. It is God breathed; therefore, Scripture will never contradict itself.
  • Don’t base your convictions on an obscure passage of scripture: An obscure passage is one in which the meaning is not easily understood. Because they are difficult to understand they should not be used as a basis for establishing doctrine.
  • Interpret Scripture literally: God spoke to us that we might know truth. Therefore, take away the Word of God at face value – in it’s natural, normal sense. Look for the clear teaching of Scripture, not a hidden meaning.
  • Look for the single meaning of the passage: Always try to understand what the author had in mind when you interpret a portion of the Bible. Don’t twist verses to support a meaning that is not clearly taught. Unless the author indicates that there is another meaning to what he says, let the passage speak for itself.


What do I do about what the text says?

  • Look for whether or not the text demands a specific answer.
  • Ask yourself, “If the author was speaking face to face with me, what would he expect my response to be?”
  • Take any action the Scripture requires
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into what He expects from you in response to His revealed truth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.